A Stroke of Insight for Engineering Education

When I attended Brian Bomeisler’s course (here) based on his mom’s book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, he showed us Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk Stroke of Insight.  Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroscientist who had a strong stroke that shut down the language centers on the left side of her brain.  In her video, she goes onto describe both scientifically and emotionally her unique experience in a very moving way.  ThreeJoy works with clients to find the joy, happiness, and peace in educational settings, and her description of the stroke has much in common with mindfulness practices that emphasize quieting the mind and feeling a larger connectedness to others.


ThreeJoy believes that these practices and an emphasis on noticing and mindfulness are important to the transformation of engineering education around the world (see earlier post here).  For more on Jill Bolte Taylor and her work go here.

Retooling Engineering Education Culture with the Keystone Habit of Listening

Cover page of Duhigg's book, The Power of HabitI’ve been reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit (here) and i was struck by a story about Alcoa Aluminum and Paul O’Neil’s installation turnaround of a dysfunctional culture one person at a time.  More detail is available in the book, but the short version is that O’Neil insisted on a focus on safety at a time when profitability was challenged.  Many thought O’Neil was deranged and expected him to spend time working more directly on cutting expenses and increasing margins, but O’Neil was crazy like a fox, and he knew that a focus on safety would act as a keystone habit to realign the culture with exactly those things that would make the company profitable.

Ever since reading these passages, I’ve been sitting in the question as follows: What keystone habit or habits would effect the same kind of foundational realignment of engineering education culture?  After some reflection, I’ve concluded that the answer is listening.  The reason the current state of engineering education affairs sustains itself is that teachers aren’t listening to students, students, increasingly, aren’t listening to teachers, and as a result, their is almost no feedback to drive change in the needed directions.  The creation of listening universities, listening colleges, and listening polytechnics around the world would create the possibility of real change without the usual pitched resistance or backsliding once change is in place.

Over the last 18 months, ThreeJoy has developed a new kind of short interactive training seminar called NLQ or noticing, listening, and questioning. NLQ can be used in a short standalone mode or in concert with other building blocks to create a very effective change enhancing program for a variety of educational transformation outcomes.  Contact deg@threejoy.com for more information, and start creating the listening school of the future, today.

Do more great work

We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and the perceived quality of that work affects the quality of our lives.  I’ve been using the book Do More Great Work (here) by Michael B. Stanier to reflect on the work ThreeJoy does, and I’ve found the questions Stanier asks the 16 great work maps he has created to be a helpful guide in these reflections.  The great work maps are in 4 categories:

Maps 1-3: Greatness -> You already know more about your Great Work than you might think

Maps 4-6: Choices -> Doing Great Work requires you to make some choices. Where will you focus?

Maps 7-9: Possibilities -> Expand your sense of what your Great Work might be

Maps 10-16: Action -> It’s time to take a step towards your Great Work

If a useful combination of solid open-ended questions for reflection and some visual tools to help bring those reflections to fruition would be helpful to you, take a look at Do More Great Work.